The new Veterans Honor Wall in the Lobby of Clare County courthouse lobby is a thing of beauty.
A P.O.W., M.I.A. Table Occupies the Southeast corner of the lobby as part of the Veterans Honor Wall display
Allisha Gary – Officer, Clare County Veteran Services listens as Carl Hauser Director of Clare County Veteran Services explains how the new Wall came about while Standing next to a reduced copy of the previous version prior to the inveiling.
By Pat Maurer
Photos by Steve Landon
What was just a small display, pictures of local veterans in the lobby of the Clare County building, has a whole new look after a beautiful tribute, the new “Veterans’ Honor Wall” was unveiled Tuesday morning.
According to information from Clare County Veterans Service Director Karl Hauser, ‘Previously, a large mural featuring an eagle with a US flag was featured, installed sometime around 2007. The mural had been painted by Korean-era veteran Richard Day. Over the years, various pictures of local veterans were tacked to the painting, creating a less than ideal appearance and covering most of the artwork.”
In January, Clare County Administrator Lori Phelps pulled Veterans Service Director Karl Hauser aside and asked if the wall honoring local veterans could be redone to create a more uniform and dignified appearance. Hauser agreed to take on the project, then enlisted the help of Veterans Service Officer Allisha Gary to come up with a cleaner design to honor those who have served.
Gary got to work right away, starting with the existing photos from the mural. These were scanned, color enhanced where needed, and researched to ensure the correct branch of service was identified and from which high school in Clare County the veteran had graduated. Phelps had provided a three-panel frame which previously held several County maps. Gary designed a layout which could feature up to 70 veterans, all with uniformly-sized photos and with the service branch seal clearly displayed.
Gary realized there was space for more veterans to be honored, so she used email, social media, and word of mouth to gather even more photos. She also researched the Clare County graduates who had been killed in Vietnam and was able to find their photos to add to a separate display honoring those killed in action (KIA) since the WW II era. Since no photos of Korea or WW II KIAs were available, their names were listed instead.
Once all of the dozens of photos had been received, Gary began laying them out alphabetically and mounting them within the frames. She also created a separate display for those Clare County employees who are veterans but not originally from the County. This group would be displayed under the “Veteran Friendly Employer” Bronze award which had been presented to the County by the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency.
Gary worked closely with Kari Bauer of the County Building maintenance team for removal of the old mural which had been glued to the wall. They were able to remove the mural undamaged and move it to the hallway near the Veterans Services office on the second floor of the County Building. Bauer also ensured all of the remaining adhesive residue was removed, making it far easier to install the new frames. Additional installation assistance was provided by Jerry Becker, Stacy Budd and Daryl Pelshaw.
Now, after several months of planning and design, Clare County has a new display to celebrate its veterans.
On Tuesday, County staff, elected officials, veterans and the community attended when the Clare County Veteran Services ‘team’ unveiled the Veterans’ Honor Wall in the Clare County Courthouse lobby. “It was a great turnout,” Gary said, “more than we expected.”
In a 9 & 10 interview during the celebration Allisha, said, “We wanted to honor them [veterans] properly to give our thanks to them for the service that they have given us.”
“Sixty pictures of veterans are on the new Honor Wall, but there’s room for more,” Allisha said. Anyone wanting to add a veteran can call 989-539-3273 or email Allisha at email@example.com for information.
Allisha has deep roots in the community and a unique perspective as a Military Spouse, Director Karl Hauser said in a post on February 1st when she took the position full-time. She has been with the office since last year when she started working part-time around Thanksgiving, began growing up in Clare County, moved to Gladwin as a youngster, graduated from Gladwin and moved back to Clare County and now lives here with her family.
Director Karl Hauser is an accredited County Veterans Service Officer. He served for 20 years in the United States Air Force and has been the Director for the past five years. “We are here to help Veterans with a wide range of services. You served our county. Let us serve you!” Hauser’s Facebook post said. “If you are a Veteran in Clare County and need assistance with filing a claim, an appeal, or just not sure where to start come in and talk to us. We are located on the second floor of the Clare County Building in Harrison. Currently our hours are Monday – Friday 8:00 am-4:30 pm, closed 12:00 am-1:00 pm for lunch.”
“Give us a call to set up an appointment (989) 539-3273,” he said.